Lexington County, SC (WLTX) - Bond has been set for two Lexington County teens who deputies say broke into a church on Monday.
They're identified as 17-year-old Tristian Harmon and 17-year-old Skylar
The two have each been charged with 2nd degree burglary, malicious injury to a place of worship, safecracking, two car break-ins, grand larceny and conspiracy, according to arrest warrants.
"I just couldn't believe the damage that was done,” says Justin Eshleman, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. "They had taken the safe out of the office and beat it open, painted up the walls and so forth. It's just unbelievable."
The teens caused more than $20,000 worth of damage to the inside of the church.
At a bond hearing on Thursday, investigators explained that the two allegedly broke into the church, vandalized it and then left. Investigators then say that they broke into two cars nearby and then stole a golf cart.
Pastor Eshleman was at the hearing and says he wants to warn churches to step up their security if they haven't already.
"We lived in a society where we didn't lock our doors when we were growing up and many churches debated about leaving their doors open so that people could come in and pray,” says Eshleman. “But obviously having this much damage and the cost factor of it, we're just going to have to step up our security."
The church does have surveillance cameras, but they were not recording at the time of the incident. They plan to add an alarm system.
As for the teens Pastor Eshleman says he's praying for them.
"One night of some bad choices and this is going to weigh on their life, possibly the rest of their life. I would just encourage them, especially in light of some of the things they wrote on the wall to draw near to God and seek God for help."
Both teens have bonds worth more than $30,000 each. They are expected back in court for a first appearance on August 3rd.
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